Normally, you tune into the news to see what is happening in the world and in your local community.
And, perhaps most importantly, which celebrity couple just broke up.
But what if we told you the news could be so much more? What if we told you the news could become a favorite tool for learning Russian?
We are not just teasing you. We’re not mean like that. The news can totally help you learn Russian.
Like reading blogs and studying learning books, reading Russian news is a great way to improve your vocabulary naturally, with loads of context.
And just as listening to podcasts and audiobooks will improve your listening and speaking skills, so will listening to news clips and watching timely broadcasts.
Plus, news sources have the added benefit of being a self-replenishing resource—news is happening all the time, so new learning material is coming out every second.
So, instead of just learning the latest goings-on, why not learn Russian with your daily dose of news?
The Language Learner’s Guide to Russian News
Why Learn Russian with News?
Learning Russian with news is a good way to learn culture and language simultaneously. Russian-language news provides news from Russia and presents you with a Russian slant on world news. Because of this, you can get a feel for the Russian culture and perspective as you learn the language. We call that multitasking.
Additionally, Russian news will familiarize you with important, thematic vocabulary. For instance, if you want to learn Russian for business, reading the business sections of newspapers will help you learn specialized terms.
Finally, when you use the news to learn Russian, you can often figure out the meanings of unfamiliar words using context clues. Not only is this convenient because you won’t have to refer to a dictionary as often, but it will also help prepare you for real-world situations in which you need to determine a word’s meaning based on the context.
How to Learn Russian with News
Pick news that interests you. There are many types of news, so you have a lot of options. For instance, you can select from world news, entertainment news, business news, sports news, science and technology news, celebrity news, etc. Choosing a topic that interests you will help motivate you to keep reading or watching the news.
Use TV news, newspapers or both. TV news will help you with listening practice. Newspapers will help you with reading practice. If you use TV news and newspapers together, you will get ample practice with both listening and reading. You don’t need to have cable service in Russia to watch shows though—you can easily find good news programs while watching Russian TV online.
Make vocabulary lists based on news stories. While watching or reading, jot down the specific vocabulary that sticks out as related to topical events, or that you hear repeated frequently on the news. Seek out vocabulary lists loaded with political, legal and scientific Russian vocabulary words, since that is what you will likely encounter. All of this will help you learn unfamiliar words while watching and reading.
Since words are often repeated between news stories, this will help you understand other stories in the future. You can also seek out different stories from different Russian news resources on the same topic, so you can see those words used in different ways.
Keep a dictionary handy, just in case. If you absolutely cannot figure out a word based on context clues, having a dictionary on hand will help ensure you can still understand the rest of the story.
Read the news aloud to practice your speaking. This will make news an even better all-around learning option.
Keep in mind that every news source has its bias. Like it or not, 100% of news stories are slanted, and there is no way around it. Inherently, journalists must decide what information to include and what not to include, and this is often based on the policies and/or agenda of the news agency. Because of this, it is important to use multiple news sources to get a more accurate idea of what is going on in the world.
With these tips, you can get into your news-based learning. But if you think you’d like to get a little more language prep, you may want to try out FluentU.
Each video comes with interactive captions that let you learn a word in context, with provided definitions, audio pronunciation, supporting images and usages in example sentences. You can save any new words you learn for review purposes, or you can take advantage of FluentU’s adaptive quizzes that are based on your tracked progress.
FluentU’s video library is vast, so you can be learning all kinds of useful vocabulary, but you can also target the news-related clips to really hone your abilities in following Russian-based news reports.
If you’re interested, check out FluentU and its free trial!
5 Reputable Resources for Learning Russian with News
Правда (Truth) has a bit of a complicated history. It used to be a very popular newspaper run by the Communist Party. However, a split in 1996 has led to there being two different newspapers under the same name: one run by the Communist Party and one that is privately owned and Russia’s first online newspaper. This Правда is the privately owned Правда. In spite of being privately owned, it is still accused of being a propaganda tool, so be sure to be a discerning reader.
Правда offers print stories, though some of the stories also have accompanying videos.
In addition to offering Russian language articles, there are printed articles in English. This is a great way for any beginning Russian learners to get a Russian take on events without the language barrier.
Slideshows like «Хорошего вам настроения!» (“Have a good mood!”) are particularly good for beginning learners. Each photo has a brief caption, so you won’t be overwhelmed by a lot of text. Plus, who can resist cute animal pics?
2. Вечерняя Москва
Вечерняя Москва (Evening Moscow) is a daily newspaper that has been published out of Moscow for over 90 years. It is not government-run, but it does have the government’s support, and this could influence the material.
Most news stories offer both printed text and an accompanying video.
Вечерняя Москва offers a lot of news stories focused on local culture and events. For instance, if you like cheese and fun, read or watch «Фестиваль „Сырные дни“ могут проводить в Москве ежегодно» (“Festival ‘Cheese Days’ are held annually in Moscow”) to learn more about the unique festival as well as some helpful vocabulary related to cheese and festivals.
3. Московская правда
Московская правда (Moscow Truth) also goes by МосПравда. It is a popular daily newspaper out of Moscow that has been published for nearly 100 years.
The focus is almost entirely local news, and all articles are print articles. If you like the look of a traditional newspaper, you can download PDFs of the newspaper.
A fun way to encourage yourself to practice your reading is the Московская правда Гороскоп (Horoscope) section. You will learn everyday vocabulary along with astrological terms (which everyone knows are essential to a well-rounded vocabulary).
4. Информационное агентство России ТАСС
Информационное агентство России ТАСС (Russian News Agency TASS), which started in 1902, is the largest Russian news agency. It is also the world’s fourth largest news agency. It has 70 Russian offices and 68 bureaus around the world, so needless to say, it produces a lot of stories.
Информационное агентство России ТАСС is owned by the Russian government, so keep this in mind when reading news stories.
It focuses on world news, particularly stories that relate to Russia. This is a great way to learn vocabulary related to world issues like conflict, natural disaster and geography.
Many stories offer both print and video components, so you can mix and match your listening and reading practice. Информационное агентство России ТАСС also sometimes offers live coverage to provide you with up-to-the-minute news coverage.
If you struggle with Russian, you can also access the English-language version of the page to get a Russian take on news stories (though the content is not identical to the Russian page).
It is particularly interesting to follow the agency’s coverage of US-Russia relations after the election of Donald Trump. For instance, you might want to read «Эксперт: победа Трампа на выборах дает шанс на новую перезагрузку отношений РФ и СШA» (“Expert: Trump’s election victory provides a chance to restart a new Russian-US relations”).
5. Russia Today
Russia Today (also known as RT) is a television network launched in 2005 and based in Moscow. It is funded by the Russian government, so the coverage is shaped by this. The network has previously been accused of being a propaganda tool and spreading inaccurate information, so it is always important to consider the information they provide carefully in context.
With that in mind, Russia Today is still a useful tool for anyone looking to learn Russian. They offer both videos and printed text on topics including world news, Russian news, the economy and sports.
Russia Today also offers an English channel to provide you with a Russian take on news stories. It is interesting and educational to read and watch RT’s take on the recent US elections. For instance, you might try reading or watching «Дональд Трамп избран 45-м президентом СШA» (“Donald Trump was elected the 45th President of the USA”).
Paying attention to the news can seem futile. You can’t stop the wars. You can’t give celebrity couples the marriage counseling they so badly need.
But with a little effort, you can use the news to learn Russian.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn Russian with real-world videos.